Rainbow House, Mawdesley is known for its work supporting children and young people

with neurological and physical disabilities, but the charity has recognised they have

also become a vital part of the lives of their children’s parents and siblings.

They recognise the importance of support for the whole family and realise that providing

breaks and activities for parents and siblings, together with the opportunity to socialise with

other families using Rainbow House, is extremely beneficial to those families who are often

isolated from the rest of society.

Whilst much support so far has been informal and reactive, Rainbow House is now

starting to develop a programme of social events and parent carer groups. Amongst the

events being planned by Sonia Harris, Parent Liaison at Rainbow House, are Family

Barbeques, Dads’ Day Out at Preston North End, Mums’ Race Day at Haydock Park,

Chester Zoo Trip, Siblings Day Out to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and a Sea Life Centre Trip.

Katy Hencher, a parent from Leyland said, “everyone is so friendly at Rainbow House

it makes you feel normal and the programme of events being planned sounds great fun.”

Some parents are also arranging their own informal get-togethers, looking at healthy

lifestyle options and taking part in Keep Fit sessions with Rachel Bryan of Fitbop who gives

up some of her time to help them. Rachel said she had experience of caring in her family

and when she realised how much time the parents give up to care she thought she would

do the Keep Fit sessions to give them some “me time” while their children are at

Rainbow House.

Ben Blackman, Chief Executive, Rainbow House, said “Rainbow House is changing

to meet the needs of a changing world where a whole family approach has been identified

as the way forward. Whilst our main aim is to support children and young people with

neurological and physical disabilities, we recognise the need to support all the family as

well. We know from families we support that other support services they have relied on

continue to be hit by cutbacks so we feel we should step up wherever we can. As we

have no statutory funding, cutbacks do not directly affect us but we have to raise

over £12,000 per week to provide the unique variety of services our families need for a

diverse range of conditions.”

He continued, “in addition to the events, group sessions and counselling we plan to

organise, we will continue to progress partnership work with other organisations who help

unpaid carers, to ensure that our parent carers have the widest support network

possible.”

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